One Fine Day in Winter – The Life of the Photographer
Growing up I was a huge fan of Mad Magazine and especially Don Martin’s cartoons which often had titles such as “One Fine Day in XYZ”. Combine that with my new learning challenge of creating videos and you get a result like the above video which attempts to get the viewer a glimpse into my process. Yes, mundane chores like like doing the laundry, giving rides to ski practice and grocery shopping get in the way of the “glamorous” life of the fine art photographer.
Big snow falls add extra challenges. 1. being the driveway has to be shoveled before any play happens. 2. it is often not safe to stop along a roadside when the plows are still working or the ditches are just waiting to swallow your car. 3.when you are the one working from home you get a list of chores to do.
Not all is as it seems in winter. A couple years ago I drove up what I thought was a snow covered driveway but it turned out to be a snowmobile trail and it swallowed my new car. I ended up walking to a country store and buying lunch for a burly landscaper kind of dude with a truck full of shovels to come and help we get out of the snow bank.
Oh the hazards of the job. Full of adventure yet full of perils not shown on a GPS unit. Here are a few captures from Etna, NH after snow storm Nico. 8 – 12 more inches are on the way!
Cabin in the Woods – “Cabin in the Woods Autumn” is a new watercolor artwork from Edward M. Fielding based on an original photograph taken in Etna, New Hampshire, a rural part of Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth College in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. “Cabin” features a rustic old building in Hanover Center surrounded by a forest of deciduous trees in peak fall splendor.
Prints of this artwork are available as prints rolled in a tube for local custom framing by the collector or on ready to hang canvas, metal prints or framed and matted. This artwork of a old rustic cabin in the woods is also available on cell phone covers and other products such as tote bags.
Museum-quality canvas prints are available. Each canvas print is hand-crafted at one of our global production facilities using premium cotton / poly canvases, pine stretcher bars, and archival inks.
We currently offer 230 frames and 100 mats which can be used to create museum-quality masterpieces from any print. Our interactive framing interface allows you to preview your prints in any of the thousands of frame and mats that we carry. You’re sure to find one that suits your taste and enhances the beauty of your print. All of our frames are assembled, packaged, and shipped by our expert framing staff and come with a 30 day money-back guarantee. If you are unhappy with the quality of your print, frame, or mat for any reason, simply mail it back within 30 days of delivery, and you’ll receive a full refund of your purchase price.
I live in Hanover, New Hampshire but we’re only short drive from the Vermont boarder. We’re so close to Vermont that kids from Norwich, Vermont attend our middle school and high school. I probably spend as much time in Vermont as I do in New Hampshire, crossing over the Connecticut River on the various bridges – covered and otherwise that traverse the river back and forth between the two states. Of course it should noted the all of the bridges are owned by New Hampshire as the NH state line extends to the opposite side of the Connecticut River. This includes the longest covered bridge in the country – the Windsor-Cornish covered bridge.
Both states share a lot of things in common that make for great photo opportunities including:
New Hampshire tends to have a lot more trees. Deer hunter friends of mine give Vermont a better rating because the state has more open areas for deer to flourish but both states have a healthy wildlife population of large mammals such as black bears, moose, deer as well as birds such as the ducks, turkeys, loons, eagles, hawks, owls, geese and song birds.
Both have mountains. New Hampshire has the more dramatic White Mountains range with Mount Washington being the highest peak in the Northeast while Vermont has the Green Mountain range with Mt. Mansfield in Stowe being the highest peak.
Only New Hampshire has a sea coast. Its tiny but its there and it manages to include the rather photogenic and historic city of Portsmouth. Vermont doesn’t have the ocean but it has the impressively large Lake Champlain and the Burlington waterfront. Then again New Hampshire has the lakes region with the very large Lake Winnipesaukee as a centerpiece.
I have to give Vermont the edge on having more scenic farm land. New Hampshire tends to be more forested and hillier. The farmland south of Burlington is flatter and easier to find compositions although if you look around enough there is plenty of great old red barns, cows, farm houses and old farm junk to photograph in both states.
As far as attractions go, New Hampshire has the edge on amusements. Vermont’s attractions tend towards shopping and food. Vermont has the Yankee Candle Company, Basketville, The Vermont Country Store, The Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben and Jerry’s, The Cider Mill as well as many beer breweries such as Harpoon in Windsor and a handful up in the Burlington Area like Magic Hat and Switchback. Meanwhile New Hampshire has Storyland, the Cog Railroad, Conway Scenic Railroad, Clark’s Trading Post and Canobie Lake Amusement Park.
As far as National Parks – Vermont has the Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT with hiking, an historic mansion tour and a working farm to explore. New Hampshire has the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH which is also in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Since both states are relatively small, you can travel around both in a small vacation schedule. Each has a life times worth of places to explore, hike, ski, boat, hunt and photograph but you can also pick out some highlights in each state to visit and savor.
Driving around Prince Edward Island after dinner with a car full of teenagers, I spotted this row of beautiful old antique tractors lit with incredible light from the setting sun. Now in these situations I have to make a calculation in my head within seconds. First is there anyone behind me before I slam on the brakes, second is there any where to pull over and third am I ready for the complaints from the passengers who really just want to get to our destination.
Believe me there are so many times I’m happy to ignore the protests! In photography, the photographer does rely on a lot of serendipitous moments but these moments favor the prepared. Its all about always looking for photograph opportunities and then having the skills to be able to pull the image off.
Make Your Own Luck
1. Learning to see images
2. Always having a camera on hand
3. Practicing constantly
4. Giving yourself opportunities
5. Returning to locations
6. Taking advantage of good light
7. Working quickly and with purpose
8. Making not taking photographs
9. Putting yourself in front of interesting subjects.
10. Walking for driving down that unknown street.
The lighthouse photograph above came about over years of revisiting the same area. Conditions were “lucky” on this occasion of going back to the same area and exploring it thoroughly to capture the best light, the best clouds, the best angle etc. More hard work than luck. The lucky part is when the sun and clouds cooperated.
Luck and Photography
It has been said that photography is the art form where luck matters most. True enough. And anyone can get that one lucky shot in their life time. But when you look over the career of a great photographer and start seeing one “lucky” shot after another, you start to realize there has to be a bit of planning behind all of those lucky shots.
This “storm chaser” shot below was very lucky. Probably lucky I didn’t get killed. But I didn’t go chasing a wall cloud, the storm came to us. I took this shot from the porch of a little cottage we rented on Prince Edward Island. Lucky, although I was prepared with my tripod and camera equipment.
MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT skilled photographers, but if you’ve taken enough pictures in your life, you’ve surely turned up some good ones — a snapshot or two that made you think, “Maybe I have a knack for this.” – Boston Globe
Lucky Shots Take Time
People just starting out in photography look at great photos and have a desire to create the same amazing photograph right away. The problem is looking at a small sample of a photographers lifetime of work. Keep in mind that you are looking at the best of a photographer’s portfolio over a long period of time. Luck will present itself within a long time frame. Play blackjack, roulette, the lottery or slot machines long enough and you will win at some point.
Same with photography. Invest the time and energy to create your own luck and it will happen.
Sometimes luck comes in the form of a vintage car parked in the exact right spot at the exact time you happen to be there with your camera.
New Vermont Farm Landscape in colored pencil by Edward M. Fielding featuring the Four Corners Farm.
About Edward M. Fielding and the artwork:
NOTE: The watermark DOES NOT appear on the final print.
All work comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee. If you don’t love it, simply return it.
Limited time promotion: Use this discount coupon code for any artwork by Edward Fielding. ‘NRRMDM’
My work can be seen in homes and offices around the world as well as on the covers of bestselling novels and magazines. Over 800+ satisfied customers from this portfolio on Fine Art America and Pixels alone.
….. I use my artwork to communicate my vision of the world. My work deals with storytelling in light and shadow from the beauty, texture and shape of every day objects to wonders of the natural world. Thanks for stopping by! — Edward M. Fielding
Edward M. Fielding
sales @ dogfordstudios.com
Many of the images featured here on Fine Art America are available for rights managed licensing for book covers and other projects from Arc Angel Images – http://tinyurl.com/aww2wzl
Books in print:
‘the Quotable Westie’
‘The Last Resort – Fine art photographs of Maui, Hawaii’ by Edward M. Fielding
Fine art photography and digital art by artist Edward M. Fielding. Fielding is an artist working in the photography and digital media. As a freelance artist my work is currently represented by several leading stock agencies.
My work has appeared in featured in numerous magazines, greeting cards, advertising, book covers and media companies as well as been widely shown and juries into fine art shows.
Recently I was one of the featured artists in the PhotoReel art show at Gallery W at the Whitney in the Berkshires. And a selected artist at the juried show at the AVA Gallery, selected by Susan Strickler, Director, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH.
In addition to fine art photography, I enjoy being a staff educator at the AVA Gallery and Arts Center in Lebanon, NH teaching creative technology such as Scratch and Lego Mindstorms robotics to elementary and middle school children.
If you’ve grown up with Ansel Adams posters on the wall, you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that good landscape photographs must have edge to edge, back and front, sharpness. Everything from the soda can at your feet to the mist on top of the far away mountaintop has to be tack sharp.
The problems is that trying to achieve the same results as Ansel Adams 8×10 view camera is difficult to achieve with a DSLR set up. The physics are impossible to replicate between the two very different types of cameras and the very different “sensor” sizes.
Better Sharpness Is Within Your Grasp
Sharper landscape photographs can be made by following the following tips. Mind you these tips work for all levels of lenses from consumer to pro grade lenses. And they work pretty much for any camera set up from cell phone to pro level DSLR camera. Just don’t expect to achieve view camera like results.
Stabilize Your Camera
All cameras, except for specially made out focus cameras like the Diana plastic lens toy camera, are designed to achieve sharp images. All lenses are designed to create a single sharp focus area. So any equipment can create sharp images if used properly.
The challenge to achieving sharp images typically comes down to eliminating motion blur. Motion blur is when the camera moves during the exposure.
The trick is to eliminate an chance of motion during the exposure. The best way to achieve this is to lock your camera down on a tripod. Or rest it on a bean bag or if you are hand holding, to lock in your elbows to your body to create the most stable platform.
Tips for using a Tripod
Use a heavy duty tripod, not some flimsy cheap junk that will wobble with the wind.
Lock down your camera. Tighten all bolts and joints. You want to create a solid connection between the camera and the ground.
Hang a weight from the center column of the tripod.
Put a bean bag on TOP of the camera to hold it down.
Faster Shutter Speed = Sharper Photos
Faster shutter speeds will increase the likely-hood of getting a sharper image. You should only attempt hand holding a camera at a shutter speed equal to the focal length of the lens you are using. 35mm should be used at shutter speeds of 1/30 and faster for example. But to be safe, shoot at double the focal length and practice good camera holding techniques such as bracing your elbows against your body and rolling your finger over the shutter button.
You can get faster shutter speeds by:
Increasing the ISO – the trade off is more noise
Opening up the aperture (higher numbers) – the trade off is less depth of field
Shooting on bright sunny days – the trade off is harsh shadows.
Tips for Greater Depth of Field
Greater depth of field increases the illusion of a sharper over all image. Only one plane within the photograph is truly at the sharpest point possible but a greater depth of field or DOF makes the areas not in focus less apparent.
Smaller apertures increase depth of field – but if you go too far you can lose sharpness
Wide angle lenses have greater depth of field
Mirrorless cameras have greater depth of field than full framed mirrored cameras.
Try shooting at F11 or F16 which is in the middle range of most lenses which is typically the sweet spot of sharpness. Going to the extremes like F22 may lead to less sharp imaged due to diffraction. Diffraction is an optical effect which limits the total resolution of your photography — no matter how many megapixels your camera may have. It happens because light begins to disperse or “diffract” when passing through a small opening (such as your camera’s aperture).
Since your camera is most likely on a tripod, focus can be done carefully and deliberately.
Switch of any lens stabilization when on a tripod.
Use “live view” so you can zoom in with the LCD screen and focus precisely.
Focus on third of the way into the view. Objects closer in the scene will be scrutinized more closely then features in the distance. We expect distant objects to be less focused.
Use “Mirror Lock” up to eliminate vibrations due to the slapping of the mirror during exposure.
Use a cable release or the timer feature to let your camera settle down before taking the shot.
Don’t touch the tripod during the exposure.
Use Prime Lenses
Prime lenses are non-zoom lenses. Single focal length lenses are designed to achieve maximized sharpness in a single spot, while zoom lenses are inherently a compromise in design. Prime lenses as a rule will provide sharper images. Also prime lenses aren’t as likely to slip out of focus during the exposure. Shooting down or up with a zoom can lead to movement of the lens.
In my last post I wrote about seeking out covered bridges in the Bath, New Hampshire area. I had to report for jury duty at the Grafton County Court House which is about 45 minutes from my home. When I got there jury duty was cancelled, I guess they ran out of criminals, but I had planned ahead and had my car packed for an afternoon of exploring and photographing. Turned out I had all morning.
The season is still rather blah here in Norther New England. Early May and its still cold and damp but at least it wasn’t raining as I explored around the Woodsville, Bath, and North Haverhill region of the state.
My typically MO for finding spots like these is to randomly drive around the area until something catches my eye or I see a historic marker. One time I was so deep in the backwoods of middle Vermont, in the Peachem area that I came across a great old covered bridge but I was surprised by the number of people milling around the area. I asked one of people how the heck they ended up there. I guess I went so far in one direction that there was a town closer in the opposite direction. Anyway I typically just follow roads with town name in them. I also make sure I have a full tank of gas as gas stations are few and far between in the rural areas of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
If I really get stuck I have the GPS unit in the car but that doesn’t always work very well on the dirt backroads especially with overcast skies and/or mountains. My real friend are my copies of the DeLorme Gazetter which include maps of every area in the state and mark special features such as bridges, state parks, waterfalls an other points of interest.
New resource for finding old historic bridges
Recently I found a new (at least new to me) resource for finding old bridges. http://bridgehunter.com/
Bridgehunter.com is a database of historic or notable bridges in the United States, past and present.
This is a great database of bridges across the United States. Existing bridges as well as old bridges that have succumbed to time, age and progress.
Separated by the Connecticut River but joined by the longest wooden covered bridge in America, the Cornish, NH and Windsor, VT are provides a lot of authentic attractions for the tourist interested in history, beautiful rural landscape and local artisan food.
The Cornish-Windsor bridge is the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. It is interesting to note that Cornish comes first in the name because New Hamphire’s state line extends all the way across the river to the shoreline of Vermont and has to maintain the bridges on the Connecticut River.
This old train station in Windsor, Vermont on Depot Road was restored in the late 1970s and later converted into a restaurant.
The Blow-Me-Down Mill in Cornish, NH was used by the artist colony community as a grist mill until its close in 1920, Now, only the restored building remains, along with a nice mill pond, wet land and a waterfall.
Things to Do in the Cornish, New Hampshire/Windsor, Vermont Area
Discover the home, studios and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest sculptors at the Saint-Gaudens Historic Site. https://www.nps.gov/saga/index.htm
Find and discover at least four of New Hampshire’s 54 covered bridges in the area. Even more if you travel a little bit farther.
Learn about manufacturing’s original “silicon valley” or known than as “the precision valley” at The American Precision Museum, housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory, it holds the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation. https://www.americanprecision.org/
Check out the Paths of Life sculpture garden in Windsor.
Grab a brew, lunch and a brewery tour at the The Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden and factory.
Tour Windsor the birthplace of Vermont – Windsor offers a self guided walking tour featuring over 40 historic structures throughout the community. The tour is supported by a comprehensive guide, available through the library, Historic Windsor’s offices in the Windsor House or Welcome Center.
Hike, paddle, bike, fish, snowshoe and ride in Mt. Ascuteny State Park.
Artisans Park – Located just minutes from Exit 9 off of I-91 you will find a brewery, distillery, cheese shop, sculpture garden, glass factory, pottery and river outfitter. The Artisans Park has something for everyone and is unlike any other attraction in New England.
Visit the annual Cornish Fair, held each year the third weekend in August.
Tour the Old Constitution House located at Windsor in the U.S. state of Vermont is the birthplace of the Vermont Republic and the Constitution of the State of Vermont.
Did you know?
Famous recluse and revered author of Catcher In The Rye, J. D. Salinger hid out from the world in Cornish, NH.
The Saint-Gaudens Historic Site is one of the least visited parks in the entire National Park system? Truly a hidden gem!
One of the many “hidden” covered bridges in the Cornish area located off the beaten path. Look for them on the map or watch for the handy signs along the road. Some of them are still in use.
Some are closed to traffic but can be crossed on foot. Finding all of the covered bridges in the area makes a great treasure hunt for kids and adults.
One of the building to explore at the Saint-Gaudens Historic Site. The grounds are free to explore in the off season and less than $10 to visit in the summer. Be sure to take one of the informative guided tours.
Note on the photographs: All of the photographs in this article on the Cornish-Windsor region of the Upper Valley are by Edward M. Fielding and can be purchase as postcards, prints, framed art, canvas prints and more via http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/
Landscape Tips from photographer Edward M. Fielding
How does one shoot landscape photography like a pro? It seems obvious, but one of the most important things is to put yourself in front of compelling, intriguing, beautiful landscape subjects. The other part of it is composing that landscape and capturing it using well practiced technical skills.
Know your subject, Explore your subject
To create a great landscape photograph (notice I didn’t say “take”), it requires knowing your subject. You want to know what time of year is best, what time of day, when the light looks best, what time of year the angle of the sun hits that barn just right, when the leaves glow with the brilliance of autumn foliage.
The good landscape photographer also doesn’t just take a snap and jump into the car on to the next place. The good landscaper photographer explores the scene from various angles and various view points, exploring all sorts of composition possibilities.
Take the following photographs of one of the most iconic farms in Vermont – the Jenne Farm, which is well known to photographers who often line up in a line, jockeying their tripods into position at the break of dawn in peak foliage season in order to capture the same shot as the guy they are bumping shoulders with as the sun comes up. Sort of like sports fishermen lined up on a fishing pier or off a fishing charter. Or at least I’ve been told but I visit the site every once in a while and have never seen another fisherman, just the occasional cow. The little red box in the left bottom corner of the first photograph “Winter in Vermont” is actually a donation box.
The above photographs of Jenne Farm are just a few from my portfolio which illustrate a variety of angles, views, and times and seasons in which I’ve explored and investigated the possibilities of this single landscape. Sure its easier to know a place when its in the neighborhood rather than a place you might be visiting on vacation but the ideas of exploring and learning about a place still apply. You can revisit a special place at different times during a day. You can also so your homework ahead of time to explore a place a various times of the day. With the Internet a popular stop like Jenne Farm will have tons of photographs online. You can explore the area and various compositions as well as time of day from the comfort of your arm chair. Your challenge when you actually visit the location is to find your own special take on it.
From Wikipedia: Jenne Farm is a farm located in Reading, Vermont. It is one of the most photographed farms in the world, especially in autumn. The farm has appeared in magazine covers, photography books, and a Budweiser television advertisement; it has also served as a setting in the films Forrest Gump and Funny Farm. Photographs of the farm have appeared on posters, postcards and wall calendars.
Despite its fame, the private farm is located along a dirt road and is not heavily promoted. The only sign indicating its presence is a tiny board along Vermont State Route 106 advertising maple syrup.
The farm became noted for photogenic scenery about 1955 when a photography school in South Woodstock discovered it. Later, it appeared as an entry in a Life photo contest, on the cover of Yankee magazine, and in Vermont Life.
I have a couple of galleries that feature farming, country and rural life including farm scenes, vintage tractors, cow, traditional family industry like maple syrup production, horses, white clapboard churches of New England, bright red barns and a general simpler way of life away from the hustle and bustle and noise of city life.
The Vintage Tractors collection features many popular photographs of old workhorse tractors, many of them still in service, spotted not only at antique tractor club shows at the local county fairs but in my neighbor’s fields being put to use cutting, drying and baling hay.
I love to find old tractors peeking out of old barns like the shot of above. The drivers behind me of course think I’m nuts when I suddenly switch on the blinkers and pull off into a dusty dirt shoulder, if not a ditch.
Or I’ll find an old beauty like this that has been left out to face the elements to slowly rot away with time.
Besides old vintage tractor photographs, I collect scenes of the country rural life here in Vermont and New Hampshire. I have the privilege of living in an area that seems to be about 50 or 100 years older than more dense areas where farm land and country homes have been gobbled up by urban sprawl.